*July 1, 1979* Sony introduces the Walkman TPS-L2 portable cassette player, a device that would change the way people listened to music. The idea came about when a Sony executive decided he wanted to listen to opera while flying around the world on business trips. Engineers came up with a compact, 400-gram player with two headphone sockets and which was powered by two AA batteries. It was released in the US a year later under the name ‘Sound-about’ and in the UK as ‘Stowaway’. But the company finally settled on the universal name ‘Walkman’, which entered into the Oxford English Dictionary in 1986. Initially sales were slow but then exploded thanks to growing interest in jogging and personal physical exercise in the 1980s. Sony sold more than 200 million cassette Walkmans worldwide before it stopped manufacturing them in 2010.
Also on July 1: The Communist Party of China is founded (1921); The United Kingdom returns Hong Kong to China (1997); The International Criminal Court comes into existence (2002).
Born on July 1: Estée Lauder (1906), Carl Lewis (1961), Diana, Princess of Wales (1961), Pamela Anderson (1967).